Saturday, December 15, 2012

Housekeeping and End of Year Updates

I am always trying to improve this site to make it easier to read and to provide better information.  I have a lot of fun doing this and my hope is that you have a lot of fun reading this site.  The more readers, the more reviews, the better I get at doing reviews, and so on.  That said, I have some questions that I need to pose to you because I am at a point where I need some advice about what to do next.

Haiku Giveaway

It seems like years ago that I announced the contest and that the promise of a Haiku has been hanging over my head for a decade, but the reality is it has been less than a year and we have made it.  The site's revenue cache is at $425 right now.  That means that the McGizmo Haiku can be purchased probably within the month.  In fact, this is a little ahead of schedule, but that is not a bad thing.  I am going to hold open the contest until the end of March, but get your reviews in.  If you sent me one and think I should have published it by now, drop me another email.  Also, if you want to make sure they get published, write them in a format that needs as little work as possible.  I like Typepad with links to pictures and products in parentheses.  But this all leads to one question: do you want a McGizmo Haiku with a regular or Hi CRI emitter?  I am going to put a poll on the right hand side of the page.  Vote there.

Website Nip Tuck

Second, I am thinking about having a professional spruce up the page.  The site works well and is easy to navigate, but some sites out there look gorgeous.  This would obviously cost money and I would have to use the revenue for the site to pay for it.  That means the next few hundred dollars would go to that instead of a big giveaway.  I will, of course, still give away review samples (give aways are coming).  Does this seem like a worthwhile investment or should I just keep the page as it is?  Also, anyone have experience with Squarespace?  They seem to have a good reputation and I absolutely hate Google Analytics, so they might be an option.  Post in the comments below.

Article Releases

Third, I am trying to pin down the article publishing pattern.  Ideally, I'd like to get two articles out a week, one a review and one something else.  The reviews take a lot of time and effort, so spacing them out a bit prevents me from getting jammed up.  Having eight or nine products to review at once is both challenging and slows down the process.  I am not complaining, I just want to have new content more often.  So here is my idea: I will publish one article on Monday or Tuesday and then a review-type article (a review, a shootout, or a recommendation series) on Friday or Saturday.  I'd like to give you something to read on the weekend, when you can take some time and maybe follow a few links all while sipping your coffee.  Does this sound like a good idea?

As a corollary to that, I am working on the Recommendation Series for this year.  My idea is to publish the first one right before Christmas and then march through them all.  I know that most gear folks buy their own stuff, so a pre-Christmas series, while helpful, is probably not as helpful as a post-Christmas series, you know when you have all of that gift money to spend.  Our tastes are so specific and exacting its hard to really have others buy for us, so my hope is that by doing it this way, I can help you make decisions at a time when you actually have money to spend.

Lastly, I am working on a few projects.  One is an end of the year awards post.  It has been fun to write and I have been working on it since October.  Look for that just before New Years.  Second, I am almost finished with the long ago promised Recommendation Series update.  You'll see why I was holding off on it when it is released, but that will be coming also before the end of the year.  Next, I am working on securing a few very coveted items for review.  I am in talks with a couple of different folks, makers of high quality gear.  If I can actually get some of this stuff, I think you'll really enjoy those reviews.  Suffice to say, if this works out, I think you'll be really surprised and will enjoy the content.

Thanks  

Finally, thanks.  The Haiku giveaway is my way of saying thanks in real terms, but it also needs to be written.  I am approaching my 1 millionth view.  In 18 months, that is a pretty impressive number, at least to me.  I know there are big and better sites out there, but this is a hobby and while I have put a ton of time in, I have no money or virtually no money in.  This place is all about the content.  I started it because there was no one doing written systematic reviews on the Internet.  I wanted to make a site that I would enjoy reading, hoping that a few of you were like me and might enjoy reading it too. Lots of people have helped to make this site great.

Thanks to my patient wife and my ever-willing-to-destroy-stuff son.  Thanks also to the makers and manufacturers of gear, you have all been very gracious, especially Leatherman, CRKT, 47s, Sunwayman, and Tom Bihn.  Thanks to small makers like Oveready, Prometheus Flashlights, TT PockeTTools, and Steve Ku.  A special shout out to Enrique Muyshondt for making the Mark II.  Thanks also to Blade HQ.  Their review samples have been tremendously helpful in getting new reviews out as soon as possible.  Thanks to the guys over on reddit that send tons of page views my way via a few different EDC threads.  Thanks for other EDC reviewers, Aaron, Dan, and Andrew, in particular.  Thanks to my "home" forum, EDCF, and the guys and gals over there for being the smartest, nicest, least jackass-y people on the Internet.  Thanks mostly to you for reading.  Lots of you have been here since the beginning and I am grateful for the views but more so for the knowledge you send me.  I learn more from you than I could ever send your way.  Often times I feel like I am simply telling all of you what one of you told me. 

If you keep reading, I'll keep writing.

Get those reviews in and vote for whichever Haiku you want.  After all, it is free.  Who else gives away a $450 flashlight for FREE?  Yes I know Cajun Blaze gave away a Sebenza, but this is about $100 more... 
 

15 comments:

  1. Tony,
    Thank you for the good reads throughout the year. Finding your site has been the best thing I've done for myself this year. Your regular updates are always such a pleasure to read.

    While I don't mind the site as-is, it could always do with added visual appeal and navigational ease. Perhaps you could have a discussion with them and see what ideas they throw up?

    I do like the idea of a review on the start of the week and another article which drives readers to do their own research on the weekends. I look forward to that.

    Cheers to the end of a wonderful year and to the start of a brighter new one for you.

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  2. Hi, Tony,
    I echo Pat Chan above! You are doing a great job with the reviews and the site. I especially like the fact that you cover a wide range of price points and technical qualities. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Bill B.

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  3. I echo the two above me. I don't care much about a update to the site's design, especially if it's going to cost you money. I think you've done good with the design as is. Anyway I read this mostly through the rss feed.

    I also don't care too much about planned, regular posts. The speed they come out now is fine - I get them immediately in reader, so I am not always checking here looking for more content. All too often a blogger switches to a posting schedule, and the quality of content absolutely nosedives (you see this in webcomics very very often). I certainly don't want that to happen here - not that you would let it suffer, but keeping such high quality posts could burn you out rather quickly.

    I like the year-end ("buying guide") post idea, but it'd not be a bad idea to do that in *early* December, so we can order those presents (for ourselves?) to get here by Christmas. :)

    While we're on the topic of providing content for us to consume at our leisure, please be aware that text/picture posts *can* be consumed at our leisure. But video posts can not - with a video post we are tied to our computer for the duration of a video. Videos can be great, but in my opinion they are better as *supporting* material. Yes there are people out there who have made a thing of video reviews....

    Thanks for the great blog! I always look forward to posts from you when I see them in my reader.

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  4. I've really enjoyed reading this blog, even though I'm a complete newb to EDC and I still haven't quite figured out all the terms. I find it very informative and the writing well done. I always enjoy reading about a topic that someone has a passion for. I don't mind the site layout at all and I don't have an opinion on a publishing schedule one way or the other. Just don't burn yourself out! The only quibble I've ever had with the site is that some of the links on the reviews just take you to a site's home page rather than the page for the item being talked about. Keep up the great work and Happy Holidays! May you and yours have a blessed 2013.

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  5. I'm excited to hear about the upcoming content! Thanks for the great blog. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

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  6. Are you going to answer my Kershaw question?
    Idaho Gunslinger

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  7. The site's been a real source of enjoyment and information this year. It has much improved my EDC. Our thanks to you.

    The only thing I wish you could change designwise is the light-gray-on-white display of follow up comments. Hard to read under ideal circumstances and just about unreadable on a mobile device. Other than that, I like the design of the site.

    Merry Christmas.

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  8. Thank you very much for the mention, Tony! As you know I have been a huge fan of your work, and your blog is one of my favorite things to see pop up on my RSS reader. Keep up the great work and have a very happy holiday!

    Dan

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  9. I like the design very much, especially the mobile mobile display.

    Instead of spending money on a website "spruce up", use your resources for editing. There's a lot of grammatical errors in many of your posts (please excuse any of mine). Although I can easily "read through" the mistakes, a well edited web site goes a long way.

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    1. I'd love an editor, but I don't think I can afford one nor do I have the lead time to use one effectively. Ultimately I just have to be more vigilant.

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    2. I can understand that. I've been reading your blog for over a year and it's probably my second or third most visited sites. You're doing a great job.

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  10. I think your site design looks fine. The improvements I would appreciate have more to do with added functionality such as search and dropping capta for comment posting because it interrupts the flow of comment posting. I appreciate your readership comments so more of them would be great. I understand why capta is used but message boards don't use it for every post yet most avoid machine-posted comments.

    As for the post schedule, I would not stress about the schedule. I often savor your reviews for when I have peace and quiet so timing is less important than content quality-thoroughness to me. I would suggest a SUS (a la PPT) every once in a while so your avid readers have a chance to pick up one of your review items.

    Tony, my favorite aspect of this blog is you. Your logic, your value system, your appreciation for quality, your ability to convey all of this consistently. The fact that we all have a chance to own an improved version of Muyshondt's best work is a tribute to your consistent work and appeal by both the readership and the makers. Thank you.

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  11. Hi there! I would just like to say your site is awesome. However, if it would not harm anyone, I'd just like to suggest one thing for the color of your backdrop. It seems to me that the black color covers the white letters that much and your reply boxes aren't that readable as well. Just sort of friendly advise, pal. Of course the theme is the first thing that promotes your site, so if readers will have a hard time reading you here, that may lead to a problem also.

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    1. I am looking at that but a lot of it is tied together.

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